A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of joining a discussion about disrupting the traditional roadblocks in diabetes management. The panel, moderated by CNN contributor and social entrepreneur Van Jones, focused on changing the way we live with diabetes and was part of Andrea Hoffman’s Culture Shift Labs Think Tank on Technology's Role in Health and Wellness
. Take a look at our kick-ass discussion below.
Next to me was Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, a basketball legend and NBA Hall of Famer. Like me, Earl is living with diabetes. Day in and day out, he has to manage his blood sugar levels, just like me. Together, we are part of the tribe of 30 million Americans and 415 million people worldwide living with diabetes (almost 10% of the population). And, guess what? African Americans are disproportionately affected, 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. Side note: for anyone familiar with basketball, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe (@EarlThePearl_15
) is a rock-star, pre-Lebron, pre-Garnett, pre-Kobe, pre-Jordan, pre-Magic. Earl was rookie of the year in 1967 and partnered with the equally amazing Walt Frazier to help the New York Knicks win the 1973 NBA championship. Check out these amaaazing basketball clips of Earl
from the ‘70s.
The Diabetes Rollercoaster
Living with diabetes means you juggle four interrelated players on a daily basis: food, meds/insulin, activity and glucose. Some get this play right, taking the right amount of insulin or exercise to balance their carb intake. But it is quite the balancing act. Many get it wrong, creating a rollercoaster of seemingly endless highs and lows. Other factors like stress, menstruation, anxiety, illness and other factors add to the complexity. Here’s an example. Hypothetically, Earl likes burritos (he doesn't actually - FACT!). Earl seems like he knows what he is doing and gets it right most of the time by keeping his blood sugar in range through a combination of exercise (basketball of course) and medication. He has experience in how to balance insulin with the carbs in the tortilla, beans and rice. Of course, he’s figured out how to take the right amount of insulin and sport so that his blood sugar stays consistent, in range. That is why they call him Earl "the Pearl". Many others take a different approach. They take too little insulin before the burrito, or forget, or haven't exercised. They eat a burrito, their blood sugar skyrockets. They take even more insulin to compensate. Their blood sugar eventually plummets, which creates a need for GUESS WHAT? More carbs. Boom! Their blood sugar skyrockets again, requiring more insulin. Then another blood sugar crash and need for even more carbs. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. We've all been there. This is the diabetes rollercoaster of insulin and carbs. It just doesn’t have to be this way.
We Can Do This
Our goal at One Drop is to keep people with diabetes well by changing behaviors and making great choices so that we can all lead healthier lives. By giving people the ability to better self-monitor their diabetes regimen and share the things that matter, we can all learn from each other and all make better choices to stay well. Together. The One Drop community is empowering a revolution in data-driven, self-care healthcare, empowered by smartphones, intelligent health devices, big data and like-minded communities. We now have the power to self-manage our diabetes with technology we all carry around every day. And yes, software IS eating healthcare
. Together, we all can get off the diabetes rollercoaster. Together, we can learn how to navigate blood sugar levels and diabetes in general. Together, we can leverage technology and share our experiences to make better choices each day about how we juggle insulin, carbs, activity and glucose, and get on with living life. Earl's doing it. And, I know you can do it too. One Drop at a time.